By PR Pradhan
The present day leaders never become tired from deploring the panchayat days as “dark era” in the history. Always, they are trying to project King Mahendra and King Birendra as autocratic rulers by over-shadowing their contribution to the nation. However, compared to the political system that we introduced in 1990 and also the system we have adopted at present and contribution of the leaders of the day to the nation, the panchayat system is considered as the best system in achieving prosperity for the nation and the people as well.
The present government of the Communist Party of Nepal (CPN) is the government having strength of a two-thirds majority in the parliament, even though, the performance of the government is very poor. The strongest government in the political history of Nepal seems very weak, as one individual Dr Govinda KC has been able to challenge the government. Although, the government under the command of Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli is moving forward with the slogan, “prosperous Nepal, happy Nepali” and perhaps, the intention of the Prime Minister is good but the government is becoming unpopular day by day. The reason is anarchism in every sector. The 1991 constitution guaranteed freedom to the press. By taking benefit of the situation, businessmen captured the mainstream media. Within a very short period of time, they have emerged as the media giant and started to run parallel government.
After the political change in 1990, specially after Girija Prasad Koirala became the prime minister, he tried to Congressization of the Nepal Police and civil service by rewarding pro-NC and pro-Koirala servicemen in the Police force and also in civil service. In this way, one after another prestigious and glorious institutions became defunct. Frequent change in the government bureaucracy and even in the Police force became obvious along with change in the government.
Furthermore, the political parties, to demonstrate their strength, expanded their trade unions in every industry. With the blessings of the party leaders, the union leaders emerged as powerful labour leader whose job became to collect money for the leaders of the concerned political party they were associated by troubling investors/industrialists.
Again, in the race of making stronghold in the bureaucracy, alike opening of trade unions, the non-visionary leaders in the government formalized opening of unions belonging to different political parties in civil service as well. This act was a great blunder committed by our political leaders.
Besides, more challenging part is institutionalization of corruption practice at the political level as well as at the administrative level. Rampant corruption has ruined the administrative mechanism very badly.
Today, the government is taking one after another decision which sounds good but the implementation part is very poor. We know, in the present government also, many ministers, as like in the past, want to make money through commission and corruption to secure their family’s future and also securing their own political future. They have spent money during the election and their first goal is to get back the amount they had spent during election along with the interests.
In bureaucracy also, those officers have been able to get lucrative position by paying huge amount of commission in advance. Therefore, their first job after getting new assignment will be to take back the investment made by them for the said post.
Without irradiation of corruption practice, removal of unions in bureaucracy and industrial sector and without commitment for national development, the government cannot show its efficiency. However, this is a Herculean task for PM Oli.
Olijee is talking about operating our own rails and ships and his ministers are trying to resume those already closed industries established during the panchayat days. The burning question is that can the government manage the business properly! We had Nepal Government Railway and Nepal Janakpur Jainagar Railway in operation decades before construction of the King Mahendra East-Waste Highway. We could not expand these railway lines further and finally, both the railways were permanently closed. We had many profit making government run industries, which were in operation and in profit until last days of the panchayat era. The Royal Nepal Airlines Corporation was doing good business. Currently, with the government efforts of rescuing sick Nepal Airlines, it has added new aircrafts but the management has not been able to operate new aircrafts properly. This has happened due to the bad management. The intention of the NAC management seems to enjoy commission through purchase of new aircrafts but it has seen reluctant in flying the aircraft and earning profit. Out of six new Chinese aircrafts, only one is in operation. It is because, there is no pilots to fly these aircrafts. Why the management didn’t train its own pilots to fly these aircrafts and why the management is planning to buy new twin-otter aircrafts? It is not a secret that the management receive attractive amount of commission in such purchase. The NAC management recently introduced one wide body Airbus but it is grounded as the management has not completed paper works to fly the aircraft. In the near future, another wide body Airbus is landing in Kathmandu. What is the plan developed by the NAC management to operate these two aircrafts, we don’t know. The other thing is that the Corporation has no pilots to fly the wide body Airbus and it is planning to hire foreign pilots by paying many times more money, that too in the US dollar, compared to what the Corporation is paying to its Nepali pilots. Of course, there is commission, otherwise, why the management didn’t produce Nepali pilots along with aircraft purchase deal? In such a manner, sick NAC will never be able to recover. Not an odd, the same Corporation was successfully operating and making profit during the panchayat days.
One suggestion to Olijee, if he and his team are keen to recover these sick government undertakings, they should return to the panchayat era management. If they are strongly committed for prosperous Nepal, they should not become shy in adopting good practices introduced by the panchayat system.